Every US Soccer fan knew the side would eventually win a match against Mexico in Mexico, but you would be hard pressed to find many that thought it would happen last night.
The timing of the match could not have been more perfect for Mexico. Their U-23 squad had just won the gold medal at the London Olympics, many of the usual US starters were not in the line up and Mexico had bested the US in recent history winning three out of the last four and earning a draw in the other.
Or was the timing perfect for the US?
Many of their regular starters were already preparing for their upcoming seasons overseas, so the roster was full of young players that were not expected to win—or even earn a draw—and had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Probable starters for Mexico were not in the lineup due to the Olympics.
But a big part of what made the timing of the match perfect for the US is due to Man United acquiring Robin van Persie.
Rumors had been swirling all week about RVP making a move to Old Trafford, but nothing had yet become official.
With uncertainty as to whether his role with the club would be diminished or not—or rather how much—Chicharito could not have been focused on the upcoming friendly against the United States. Then, only hours before last night’s “Un-friendly," the news of RVP’s rumored move to Manchester became official.
He did not look to be in his same troublesome form US fans have become accustomed to.
Balls he would usually have put in the back of the net missed their target, were deflected or stopped by Tim Howard.
He did provide the US a scare or two in the waning minutes of last night’s match but overall did not look like the usual Chicharito.
With last night’s win, the US highlighted itself in a multitude of ways.
Tim Howard showed he deserves to be in the discussion of world’s best keeper. By making two highlight reel saves after Michael Orozco Fiscal’s game-winning goal in the 80th minute, Howard was able to secure the United States’ first-ever win against Mexico on Mexican soil.
But it has not been an easy year for Brek Shea.
It's been a down year thus far that has included a three-game suspension for kicking a ball at an assistant referee and a bust up with his coach Schellas Hyndman last month, which caused sour feelings with USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
“US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann left Shea off the national team’s roster for its run of friendlies and World Cup qualifiers in late May and early June. Klinsmann stated at the time that he took Shea off to send him a message that he needed to not only play better, but behave better.”
However, Klinsy decided to call up the embattled star for the showdown at the Azteca. Even though his playing time was reduced to a short stint as a substitution in last night’s game, Shea still showed he can be an influential player at the national level in any amount of time on the pitch. Perhaps this will put an end to a tumultuous year and begin a re-ignition of overseas transfer talk.
But what I was most impressed by was the performance of defender Geoff Cameron. If not for what ESPN’s Ian Darke described as his “aerial defense,” the US and Tim Howard would have found themselves in much more trouble than they incurred.
"He was incredibly sharp and answered the bell in shutting down Chicharito until Aldo de Nigris came on as a second striker and stretched the U.S. back line a bit in the final minutes. He used his height advantage over Chicharito to dominate the aerial battle between the two and was an enforcer on crosses into the area. Not a bad way to enter his first foray into the Premier League.”
Overall, the win against Mexico was impressive, but the US still need to work on their ball control as the Mexicans dominated that area of the contest.
Nevertheless, with the question of there being a talent gap in favor of Mexico over the United States being answered, the removal of a 75-year-old monkey from their backs and the young up-and-coming stars of the USMNT getting the country’s first ever win against El Tri in Mexico, the future of the national team looks bright going into Brazil 2014.